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Staying on Track with Trains and Title Issues: Ownership and Use of American Railroad Rights-of-Way

By Travis A. Beaton, Joanne Darcy Crum, and Kelly Quam

As the deterioration of American infrastructure becomes more widely recognized, the transportation aspect of the crisis—as some have termed it—has arguably garnered the most attention, with various reports emphasizing the declining functionality of the country’s roads, interstates, and bridges. In response, advocates of high-speed rail have touted speedy trains as a potential solution to relieve some of the pressures resulting from the nation’s decaying transportation network. The actual implementation of such plans, however, has proved extremely difficult for supporters of an American high-speed rail system. These setbacks in many ways result from the complex nature of ownership interests in railroad rights of way (ROWs). These interests complicate conservationist efforts to convert abandoned ROWs into green spaces and the potential closures of railroad crossings.

Bullet train in the countryside

Bullet train in the countryside

iStockphoto

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